SCOTTISH bishops have agreed to an independent audit of measures brought in to try to prevent a recurrence of abuse within the Catholic Church.

A team of experts is to focus on two of Scotland’s eight dioceses, to ensure they have carried out the recommendations of the 2015 McLellan Commission which called for a series of changes to safeguard the wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults after a string of abuse scandals.

The Church says it has implemented the demands of former moderator of the Church of Scotland Andrew McLellan in full, but an Independent Review Group (IRG) established by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland is now to confirm that with the official audits.

Beginning with the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, and the Diocese of Galloway, and then moving on to cover the remaining six dioceses, the study will be conducted by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) andthe charity Children in Scotland (CIE).

Baroness Helen Liddell, IRG chair, said a team of safeguarding experts would ensure that everyone in the church, from priests – including visiting priests – to volunteers running youth groups and the wider congregations were clear about the procedures for protecting children and adults from abuse.

She said: “I am grateful that the Bishops Conference of Scotland have recognised the independence of the Review Group and have agreed to these procedures.”

She said work covering the initial two dioceses would take until spring of 2019, with audits covering the whole country likely to take up to two years to complete.

She said it was not possible for her group to right historical wrongs, but added: “The way we atone to survivors is to be absolutely certain procedures are now robust.

“We cannot eliminate the pain of those who experienced abuse in the past, but we can put in place a culture that both supports them and protects all those who most need our care and compassion in future. I chair a group of outstanding and experienced professionals who are committed to making sure children and vulnerable adults come to no harm when in the care of the Church.”

The McLellan recommendations included asking the church to apologise to victims of abuse, rewrite its safeguarding procedures, and submit to external scrutiny.